Developing a 3D Game Design Authoring Package to Assist Students’ Visualization Process in Design Thinking

Developing a 3D Game Design Authoring Package to Assist Students’ Visualization Process in Design Thinking

Ming-Shiou Kuo, Tsung-Yen Chuang
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/ijdet.2013100101
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The teaching of 3D digital game design requires the development of students’ meta-skills, from story creativity to 3D model construction, and even the visualization process in design thinking. The characteristics a good game designer should possess have been identified as including redesign things, creativity thinking and the ability to visualize ideas from imagination. Therefore, 3D visualization is a key skill in this context. To help students fully focus on game design rather than on complicated 3D modeling or animation skills, this study developed an authoring package that is integrated with Google 3D Warehouse, SketchUp, and a web-based 3D multi-user platform: 3D Cyber Worlds. The proposed game design authoring package was used with 53 college students for one semester, while a total of 108 students were involved in the overall study. The results indicate that the package achieved its aim of in assisting students in the game design process, including that of 3D modeling, and is feasible for future development using advance web technologies. Examples of the students’ game design projects and feedback on the use of this authoring package are also presented and discussed.
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3D multi-user online games have become increasingly popular in recent years (Dickey, 2011). Although there are many reasons for their success, including the vivid virtual worlds they can present and the interactions with other users that they foster, one key driver may be the falling prices and rising specifications of personal computers. Cheaper and more powerful hardware also means that 3D instructional tools are now used in an increasing number of fields, such as for enhancing spatial visualization skills in design education (Park, Kim, & Sohn, 2011), in 3D virtual learning environments (Benvenuti et al., 2010; Paraskeva, Mysirlaki, & Papagianni, 2010), and in many other educational domains, including digital game-based learning (DGBL). The significant market success of 3D massive multi-user online role-playing games (MMORPG), like World of Warcraft and Lineage, has also increased the importance of game technology and design in technological and vocational education contexts, as well as in universities (Dickey, 2011; Suh, Kim, & Kim, 2010; Susaeta et al., 2010). The curricula such courses offer generally aim to enhance students’ technological literacy and capabilities, and highlight the importance of “knowledge in action” and “learning by doing” (Echeverría et al., 2011; Papastergiou, 2009).

However, the teaching of 3D digital game design is still an emerging rather than established practice. DGBL for example, applying existing 3D games to support learning, is very different from teaching students how to design 3D games (Vos, van der Meijden, & Denessen, 2011). However, when working to integrate 3D technology and design education into a capstone course of 3D digital game design, teachers face a number of challenges related to 3D visualization, as well as with regard to the design thinking of students. With regard to 3D design practices, although these can expand students’ design-related thinking (Cockburn & McKenzie, 2001; Huang, Yeh, Li, & Chang, 2010), visualizing design ideas in 3D presentations usually requires more effort from both teachers and learners than is needed with 2D ones (Shelton & Scoresby, 2011).

From the students’ perspective, the first challenge they may encounter when attempting to construct a 3D game is the significant efforts that are required to learn how to use 3D modeling software to create game characters, buildings and objects, such as MAYATM or 3DS Max from AutodeskTM, as well as the high cost of these packages if they intend to continue their work outside of the classroom. Furthermore, even if the students have successfully prepared their collections of 3D objects or digital content, they need a virtual stage on which to present and eventually demonstrate their designs, about game stories and scenarios, as well as prototype games. At this stage they may face another problem with regard to the expense of buying a commercial game engine, such as ShiVa 3DTM, Torque EngineTM, UnityTM, UnrealTM, and VirtoolsTM. Although some of these provide free trial versions, they still require large amount of computer resources, in addition to the time and effort needed to learn how to use them. For example, Ritzhaupt (2009) reported the result on a game development course with limited resources which used the Torque Engine, and indicated that the cost and difficulty of the selected platform was seen by the students as 5 on a 5-point scale, even higher than the 4 points for the difficulty of learning how to use the 3D software. The findings point out the problems of high costs and steep learning curves in this research field.

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